Dr.Teresa Lingafelter was born August 1, 1948 in Seattle, WA, daughter of William C. Tobin and Margaret Tobin, and sister to William and Robert Tobin. She married Robert Lingafelter in 1968, and had one daughter, Rebecca Lingafelter in 1978. She was mother-in-law to Mark Valadez, and was made a joyful grandmother by Rosalind Grace Valadez in 2017. She was sister-in-law to Susan Tobin, Tom and Kathy Lingafelter, Jim and Lynn Lingafelter, Dick and Linda Lingafelter and Dan and Kitty Lingafelter. She was aunt to Enoch and Colin Tobin, and Kerrie, Kristie, Sarah, Megan, Tanner and Sam Lingafelter. And a good friend to many.
Teresa spent her life dedicated to the practice of creating a more just and equitable world. Starting in grade school, she organized a strike by the girls crossing guard to petition for new uniforms (which the boys guard had already received). They got the new uniforms. She attended the University of Washington, where she earned her BA in History and met Robert. They joined Ithaca, a community of students and activists, self-described as a “cadre”, working for radical social change. From there, Teresa and Robert joined the Institute of Cultural Affairs whose mission is to build a just and equitable society in harmony with planet Earth. Their work with the ICA took them to the Philippines, Australia, the inner city of Chicago, Jamaica, Malaysia, and Belgium.
In the mid-eighties, she returned to the United States and began a new chapter working in the Mississippi Delta with PINAH (Partners for Improved Nutrition and Health), an organization that partnered with local community leaders as well as state and local health agencies to address systemic issues of inequality in Mississippi’s healthcare system. From Mississippi, she moved to California to work with the Freedom From Hunger Foundation. In 1993, she began work on a Master’s degree in Urban Planning at UCLA, graduating in 1996, and continuing on to earn her PhD in Urban Planning in 2012. She wrote her dissertation on the citizen-led Neighborhood Planning Program in Seattle, highlighting the ways in which this democratic approach to planning resulted in a more equitable distribution of resources to low-income neighborhoods. In addition to her academic research which ranged from work on participatory action with SEIU and home health workers to a program in south Los Angeles that gave cameras to school children to create visual narratives of their lives in the inner-city, Teresa worked as a consultant for non-profits and other groups, applying her extensive skills in facilitation and strategic planning to a wide range of organizations. These last few years saw her shifting her focus towards family; contributing joyfully to Rosalind’s care, and friends; taking frequent trips to Seattle for reunions with Ithaca and her beloved book club.
Teresa was modest about her own achievements–her PhD, her writing, strategic planning, leading conversations and workshops. Her analytic mind was awesome to encounter. At the same time she savored the successes of others with a cry of “brilliant.” There was a generosity of spirit that pervaded her encounters with others. Teresa could also be unhesitatingly abrupt when she believed you were not seeing the injustice in a situation. When she was leading a group, she had the ability to step back and provide the space for reflection and insight.
Teresa was a fierce and loyal friend and mother. She loved the newest technology. She was the first to get a smart phone and to use it in all sorts of ways. She liked to monitor a lot of things, sleep, time on phone, minutes exercising, calories. She also had a deep historical understanding that kept her focused on justice and equality and the long view. She had a special interest in medieval history and named her first i-phone, Clovis, after the 5th Century King of the Franks. Teresa was always up for a “field trip”. A walk in the woods, a boat ride, a survey of the beach, a monitor at the Women’s March all taken with a sense of adventure and joyfulness. She relished encounters with animals especially dogs, though also harbor seals, rabbits, cows, horses, turtles and goats. She approached cooking with a combination of a general and a connoisseur. She loved figuring out what to cook. And she was a terrific cook. She was unafraid to try new things, and encouraged experimentation. She loved dark Norwegian crime novels, Shakespeare, never missed a Marvel movie, and was a self-admitted podcast junkie. She lived her life with profound intention and purpose and touched many lives along her path. She was an incredible human being and she is deeply missed.